When travelling, it’s very important to keep in mind the different unusual laws and customs of your destination. Responsible travel reduces the risk of being fined or arrested for something you didn’t even know about.
So, here is a selection of surprising and unusual laws to watch out for on your next vacation abroad:
1. You cannot smoke or drink in public in Ukraine
Smoking and the consumption of alcoholic drinks in public places in Ukraine – which include parks, playgrounds, sports and government buildings, bus stops, and transportation – is officially banned.
2. E-cigarettes are banned in Thailand
Vaporisers, such as e-cigarettes, e-baraku or their refills, are not allowed in Thailand. If found they will be confiscated, and you could be fined or face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Thailand has also recently banned smoking across 24 beaches, including popular tourist destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui, and Krabi, in an effort to protect its coastal environment.
3. No tobacco in Bhutan
Taking this one step further, Bhutan has made it illegal to bring tobacco into the country. In an effort to keep mountain air pure, the country has enacted one of the harshest anti-tobacco laws in the world, as you can neither smoke nor sell cigarettes here.
4. Codeine is not allowed in Japan
The use, or possession, of certain medicines that contain Codeine, such as Vicks Inhalers or painkillers are banned in Japan. Violators can face detention and deportation.
5. You can’t chew gum in Singapore
In Singapore, it’s a criminal offence to chew gum unless you can prove that it’s medicinal. Selling non-medical chewing gum or chewing normal gum will result in a fine of $1000. A second offence will cost $2000, along with community service. Littering and spitting also face similar fines.
6. Don’t spit in Barcelona
Spitting in public is definitely frowned upon in many places, but in Barcelona, it will be met with steep fines.
7. No durians in public
The infamously smelly durian fruit may not be well known in many parts of the world, but in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, laws ban it in public places like buses, trains, hotels, airports, and schools.
8. Don’t feed the pigeons in Venice
Feeding the pigeon in St Mark’s Square in Venice will be met with a fine. This has been done to reduce pigeon numbers and the damage they cause to the historic buildings.
9. Don’t feed pigeons in San Francisco either
It is also illegal to feed the pigeons inside the city limits of San Francisco. Called “the rats of the sky,” authorities have termed their large population of pigeons a health hazard.
10. No non-Islamic religious texts in the Maldives
The Muslim nation of the Maldives bans anything they deem goes against the teachings of Islam, including pornography, pork, alcohol, and non-Islamic religious texts. If you’re a visitor of a different faith who wants to carry a copy of your holy text, you’re allowed to bring only one copy, but make sure not to leave it out in the open, as you can face a penalty.
11. You can’t wear camouflage clothing in Barbados
Barbados, along with some other Caribbean countries like St. Vincent, and St. Lucia, ban the wearing of camouflage attire for anyone not in the army. Not even children are exempt from this rule, and adults found flouting it will be fined for doing so.
12. You should always wear Speedos in France
Most public swimming pools in France have banned loose-fitting swimming trunks for men. So if you’re found not wearing Speedos, banana hammocks, budgie smugglers, or even Borat thongs, you won’t be allowed in for a dip.
13. Don’t wear high heels in Greece
Historic sites in Greece, such as the Acropolis, do not allow women to wear high heels to prevent causing damage to these monuments. The Colosseum in Rome also plans to implement this rule.
14. No Buddha tattoos or selfies allowed in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka treats the mistreatment of Buddhist images as a serious offence. Visible tattoos of Buddha can prevent you from entering the country or have you deported while posing for photographs in front of Buddha statues will be met with repercussions.
15. You can’t swear in the UAE
Obscene acts, which include swearing and making rude gestures (even online), are against the law in the United Arab Emirates. Offenders can face jail time or deportation.
16. Don’t deface the national flag in Turkey
In Turkey, it is an offence to deface or in any way insult both the currency and the national flag. If you’re found guilty, you may receive a prison sentence of six months to three years.
17. Don’t step on the currency in Thailand
The Thai currency has images of the country’s revered King and thus stepping on the currency is akin to stepping on His Majesty’s face. This is termed both an insult and a criminal act.
18. Keep your headlights on in Scandinavia
According to Scandinavian law, all drivers must keep their headlights on at all times. Even during the day, cars are expected to have dimmed headlights.
19. No walking on the Autobahn in Germany
It is illegal to walk on, or along, the immensely fast-paced autobahn in Germany. It is also illegal to run out of fuel on the road, as it could cause accidents and traffic pile-ups.
20. Don’t honk in New York City
It is illegal to honk your horn in New York City. If you do, you could face a fine of $350.
21. You can’t bring animals into Australia
Australia has an incredibly fragile ecosystem that has previously been decimated by the introduction of external species. Its strict quarantine laws now stop visitors bringing in animals that might have pests or disease that could impact the country’s wildlife. Breaking these laws could result in large fines – just ask Amber Heard.
22. Don’t flush after 10 pm in Switzerland
In Switzerland, it is considered noise pollution to flush the toilet after 10 pm in many apartment blocks. While it may not be a criminal act, it is considered as being very rude to your fellow residents.
There are also many dress code rules to keep in mind when you travel. Do you know of any more unusual laws? If so, share them in the comments below.